The Ending is Always Subjective

by Brendon 8 months ago in feature / politics / business

Brendon Luke

The Ending is Always Subjective

I’ve had a lot of jobs in my time, 14 and 9 months is probably not the most ideal time to start a job. On one hand it creates independence, and gives you the financial freedom to waste your money on whatever you want. Whether it be drugs, general consumerism or the massive phone bills from all the data you were using. On the other hand, it gets you used to the idea that your money is all your own to spend as you please. This makes it quite difficult later on when you have genuine expenses related to keeping yourself fed, clothed and sheltered. It creates genuine resentment over having to pay for things like toilet paper when you have spent 10 blissful years spending your money on drugs and concert tickets while someone else took financial responsibility for the boring stuff.

I got my first job through my friend named Zack. Zack secured a job for the both of us through a step sister. She worked at a franchise called Candy play-land. Basically, a playground for spoilt kids, whose parents could afford to pay $15 to abandon them in a maze so they could have 5 minutes of peace.

The uniform was horrific, and the job itself was also horrific. It was probably even worse than working at McDonalds or Hungry Jacks. At least you could get rid of your clients there as soon as they had received their order. I was in charge of the super slide. The slide was big, maybe about 20 metres in length, it was basically a jumping castle blown up, but a slide. My job was to tell the kids how to jump down the slide so they didn’t break their neck. Sometimes I would wish a little shit would break their neck, but it’s actually not that easy to do on an air-filled slide, and kids are a lot like cats, they usually land on their feet. Because it wasn’t cheap to abandon your kids without being chased by DOCS, our target market was the crotch goblins of entitled neglectful parents. The parents had money and treated everyone with disrespect, and their little shit spawns followed suite.

One day I was super pissed off by this stupid fat kid that reminded me of myself. He made me angry in the way that only someone who reminds you of who you used to ashamedly be, can do. I had no compassion, just revulsion for the chubby spoiled sook. I wanted him to do better and be better than that. He stood there with a long line of kids piling up behind him, paralysed with fear. I decided, fuck it, he was pissing me off, so I pushed him down the slide. He might have been scared at first, but once he was half way down he started enjoying it. I saw it in his face. When he got to the bottom, he turned back and looked at me like I had completely betrayed him, and I had, but not in the way that he would ever understand as a 6-year-old.

The little fucktard ran straight back to his overbearing mummy and whined that the slide man had pushed him down the slide against his will. Mummy dearest made a complaint to our supervisor. I was in trouble. I was angry because I got told off by a kid. I got told off on the word of a sooky fat 6-year-old. If the mother had done her job and raised a well-adjusted resilient kid, I wouldn’t have had to push him. I did him a favour, I showed him that sometimes you need a little push in life and it works out for the best. You don’t get to make 100 other people wait while you workshop your self-indulgent fears. Did mummy dearest really want him to turn into a little bitch? I was no parent, but I saw myself in him and didn’t want him to suffer the school years I suffered until I stopped being a pussy.

The next roster came out and I must have misread it or probably just ignored it because I was feeling defeated by the entitled mother and child incident. I received a call from the manager saying that I was rostered on for a shift that day and that I was already an hour late. She told me that I had to come in now because she had no one to cover the shift. I asked her what would happen if I didn’t come in, probably not the best response, but the most honest. She told me if I didn't come in right now, I wouldn’t have a job. I told her I wouldn’t have a job then, because I wasn’t coming in. So, my first dabble in the employment waters was over.

My next job was at Apizza, a local gourmet pizza shop in the middle of The Hills. I did pretty well there. I was working full time while trying to do a degree that I hoped would potentially lead me to a better life. It didn’t, what no-one told us then, and probably still fails to rate a mention, is that the vast majority of graduates never end up working in the field they trained for. The market is flooded with graduates who were sold the story that a degree was a guarantee to a good job, But the number of graduates being pumped out far exceeds the availability of good jobs. KRONOS can pick and choose from a smorgasbord of medical science graduates desperate to simply get a foot in the industry door. Smart people who are $40,000 in the HECS hole after a 4-year degree are sticking needles in people for sometimes less money than you make as a check-out chick at ALDIs. There were a few problems at Apizza but I always have and always will take any opportunity to test the waters and stir the pot. The owner, Dick, was a chauvinistic pig with a superiority complex, a talent for verbal abuse and a really short fuse.

Of my time at Apizza, the thing I remember the best and most fondly was Sarge. Sarge was not his actual name, but we called him that because he used to be in the Army. Obviously, life and the army didn’t work out the way he planned, because here he was managing a pizza shop, but he seemed to enjoy the work. Sarge always seemed to be having partner problems. Looking back, I think his partner had drug problems, and maybe Sarge did too. I hope he worked his problems out and got his shit together because he was a good guy. Sarge was always nice to me and made me feel comfortable. Sarge’s life was definitely a shit storm, but despite this, or maybe because of this, he took the time to mentor the younger staff. He was like a teacher, but also like a protective older brother. I worked at Apizza for three years. Even though the owner was an abusive jack hole, my memories of the time are mostly good ones, thanks to Sarge.

Charles then scored me a job at the local cinema. It seemed like a no-brainer; I could be paid to watch movies all day. Who would say no to that? Dick was pissed off when I resigned and offered me a franchise to get me to stay. I could run my own store under their franchise. In hindsight it was a horribly missed opportunity. I was still naively assuming my degree would mean something, and pizza shop manager was not how I pictured my future. A few years of hard work getting it up and running, and I could have been doing well enough financially to employ other people to do the sucky weekend shifts. Because I lacked foresight, and still thought life had better plans for me, I turned down the offer and went to work at the cinema.

Working at the cinema opened a whole new world to me. I began to make new and meaningful friends; I was able to work full time hours that fit brilliantly into my Uni timetable. I got to work with my friends, and was actually a fairly responsible co-worker. I climbed the ladder fast and was quickly made supervisor. This gave me a level of independence and responsibility, that for a time, brought out the best in me. Then Ella came along, and a new friendship was born. We went to the same Uni, both worked hard and partied harder. We could get the job done no matter how busy or crazy it got, but we were good at leaving it behind when we clocked out. Ella had only been there a few months when she committed suicide.

Ella’s death had a huge impact on a lot of the staff. Ella had become one of our tight knit group. I remember receiving a call early Sunday morning around 6am saying that Ella had been found, hanging from the balcony in The Hills. The imagery itself was enough to disturb you for life. I called a few others as I didn’t want people finding out second hand when they had just arrived at work. About 10 of us went to Charles’s family house and jumped into bed. We all sat around for hours, talking and having tea. None of us really understood or believed what had happened.

Work tried to get us to go to counselling during this period, but many refused. I guess we believed we were our own support system. It was hard for a lot of us to swallow at the age of 19, this was meant to be the beginning of our lives. Not the end. I guess we used alcohol as our therapist during this time, and speaking only for myself, it became a bit of a lifelong crutch. All we did was work, party or drink far too much, then rock up to work again. It seemed to be the only response, rather than you know, actually dealing with the issue at hand at that time.

It started to affect a few of us. Work was generally pretty lenient at first, when it just kept going, they were forced to intervene. The first incident happened when we decided to have some lunch time drinks before we started a night shift up at the ten. That’s what we called the cinema. We had just opened our new gold glass down the other end of the cinemas and had a few snacks and about 4 bottles of wine between the three of us. By the time we stumbled into the cinema, we could barely make it to the staff room without falling over.

That day I was meant to be dressing up in costume as Cinema boy and girl, I wasn’t dressed as a hermaphroditic cinematic hero, because that would have been awesome as fuck, so naturally it didn’t happen. My life is a series of not so small disappointments at the mind breaking dullness and lack of imagination in corporate Australia. I was Cinema boy, a newly created superhero that represented the cinemas image, and boy did I represent it. Not the image that corporate had envisioned, but the one they would have envisioned if they had an ounce of imagination and my natural flair for drama. You would have thought a cinema would have been the perfect outlet for my gritty take on event boy, but like I said they were a bunch of bourgeoise bores. Heath Ledger redefined the Joker in Batman with his gritty evocative take on the character, but because I have not yet won an Oscar, the powers that be failed to see the artistic merit in an event boy that calls a kid a cunt. When news of my powerful performance of Cinema boy reached upper management, they pulled the receipts from gold class and calculated that I had drunk enough wine to take down an elephant. Technically this was ‘stealing’ and being ‘unfit for work’. They even made a short film for us to watch, it was the security camera footage of us stumbling down the hallway, falling and laughing. We skipped our first two warnings and went straight to our third and final warning with a ‘you’re being watched’. Yes sweetie, I saw the same film you did, and doesn’t it just scream ‘A star in the making’?

I knew we had pushed our luck that day and had gotten off pretty damn lightly. But like freedom fighters and first year Uni students everywhere, we wanted to tear down the existing paradigms and watch the world burn. We didn’t know who to blame for Ella's death, so we waved our fists at ‘the powers that be’. During this time a new area manager Chris started working at the cinema. Finally, we had someone to scapegoat and blame. Chris hadn’t been there when Ella died, but logic doesn’t really come into it when you are trying to process pain.

Because dear reader, as you are well aware, my life is a series of well thought out and mature decisions, one day I got drunk and sent Chris a text. It was a text saying I wanted to rape him in a compliant way. Even I know this requires some explanation. I don’t mean non consensually rape; I mean the totally consensual dirty rough sex that is enjoyed by all but leaves you with carpet burns on your scrotum. I was perhaps not clear enough about this in my message, and I do acknowledge that it’s not the sort of thing you put in writing for your manager. As soon as I hit send, I found myself hoping Chris had hundreds of numbers on his phone, and hoping he would ignore it and just assumed it was a prank. Because my god is a spiteful and vengeful god, it took them less than a week to go through all the staff phone numbers and find out that it matched my mobile. I was pulled into Chris’s office and politely asked to resign. Luckily it coincided with my upcoming trip to Europe, so I left quietly and am not on a sex offender register.

After I returned from Europe, I started working at Café Fig Tree, we all know how that ended so that skips us straight into the depression years of KRONOS.

I have covered my time at KRONOS in many previous chapters so I will skip straight to the dramatic bits. Once I had decided to take the letter to Human Resources, I knew things would take a serious turn. The meeting was set up between HR and I, and Napoleon was to be present. I decided to take Tiffany with me as a support person. I entered the meeting and everything seemed quite casual. We went through the 4-page letter I had written about the unfair treatment I had received by certain staff members in all different departments within KRONOS. HR did seem taken aback by some parts, and seemed genuinely concerned about some of my allegations. I was told that no explanation could be given until the allegations were formally investigated. I requested a formal investigation. This left them shocked, my willingness to push the issue further was evidence enough that I stood by my allegations. But like the pieces of shit they are, they already prepared to dig my grave. Napoleon pulled out a copy of a flyer I had made about my upcoming 30th birthday party. I had cancelled the party because I no longer felt like having a party, and I didn’t want to turn up to my new job hung over in my second week there. Napoleon suggested that I had cancelled the party to be manipulative. Like my birthday party was any of KRONOSs business. She was using my party plans to suggest I was going out of my way to disappoint my friends and co-workers.

They then produced an old medical certificate from my file. Napoleon informed me that it had been suggested to them that I was falsifying medical certificates so that I could be paid sick leave when I was in fact overseas. I had in fact been in Bali at the time, but the medical certificate was legitimate. The Dr had given me sick leave for mental health reasons. I asked them who had told them to question my medical certificate. They informed me that it was David Brent who had brought it to their attention. I then asked them, did they not find it weird that I was bringing a case against David Brent and that David Brent was now trying to make me look dishonest? They both answered no. That’s when they lost me, that’s when I knew the last two hours had been worth nothing. I thought I was laying the ground work for a formal investigation, but clearly, they had no intention of letting their dirt come to light. Napoleon asked me if I was SURE I wanted to lodge a formal complaint, while drumming her fingers on my old medical certificate. I said yes, and then left the meeting knowing they would do whatever it took to silence me.

I left that meeting knowing that I had been betrayed and cast out. I would never be able to achieve or progress in KRONOS due to biased management whose sole interest was maintaining the status quo. I woke up the next morning knowing that I never wanted to return to a workplace that so callously swept low level staffs genuine concerns under the rug. A company that would condone issuing veiled threats towards someone who was being bullied, harassed and treated unfairly. I got up, showered, and walked down the road to work with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had already decided that I no longer wanted to be around this poisonous company. When I got to Dee Why, I took a piece of paper from the fax machine and wrote a simple letter that stated ‘I hereby tender my resignation from the 24.08.2018 and give the courtesy of 3 weeks’ notice’.

By 1pm that afternoon Napoleon casually strolled into the Dee Why rooms and requested my presence in one of the doctor’s examination rooms. Napoleon politely directed me to sit and told me that she had received my resignation letter. Napoleon informed me they wanted me gone. In fact, Napoleon said that I didn’t even have to finish up my three weeks. I could just walk out the door there and then. Half way through the day, grab your things and leave. I think I was in shock at first for a good few minutes. Then I was like wait hang on a minute. What about my three weeks minimum courtesy leave. I’m damn not missing out on three weeks of pay to just leave. To my surprise, I was then told that I would be paid for the next three weeks and I didn’t even have to show up for work. The company wanted me gone, or to directly quote Napoleon ‘we don’t trust you to keep quiet about your letter’.

It all made sense, I was getting hush money to resign and get out. They wanted me gone, and now that I had resigned, they could make my complaints disappear. I walked out with a three week pay off with no work, and my 160 hrs of annual leave. I was asked to return all my uniform and folders containing any sensitive information and to drop them in on my own accord. I was told I could just leave them in any room and they could be couriered back to the appropriate people. After three years of trying to make things right I was pushed out the door and told to move on and never come back.

Because I hope this book is one day considered a must read classic. I will attempt to sum up the major themes of this chapter for my less intelligent readers. Like a cliff note TL: DR for those of you writing HSC papers on the themes that emerge in the hero’s tale. I don’t think I have ever left a job on good terms. I tend to burn bridges like a compulsive pyromaniac, only partially aware of what I am doing but urged on by the voices inside of me encouraging me to new and higher self-destructive heights. When my working life is laid out in black and white, it sounds fucking awful. The thing is, I am an idealist, at heart a revolutionary, and a hint of unfairness brings out my vengeful side. I want to live and work in a world that is fair and transparent. I hate politics, and game playing, and when I fall foul of either one, I lash out hard. As much as I so desperately wish I didn’t react so impulsively when I feel morally threatened, another part of me is proud of the fact I don’t just roll over to the man (obviously we are talking about work and not sex here. Sex wise I roll over for the man every time). Perhaps in time, my writing this book will prove therapeutic. Perhaps I will be able to see the patterns of my life, to see the narrative whole, and to learn to react differently to some things. I have burned so many bridges, that some days I feel like I am carrying 3rd degree burns all over my body that only I can see. God, I just don’t want to always feel like I’m fighting with the world, that I’m always on the back foot, that no-one sees the best in me. I want to feel safe in the world, not always on the defensive, not always having to watch my back. I’m going to end this chapter on that note. Too much introspection for my brain to handle right now. I need a drink.

Read next: Why Denny's Is the Perfect Starter Job for a Cook
See all posts by Brendon